One of the greatest and most troublesome frontiers for the Roman Empire was the frontier in what is today Germany. The border of the Roman Empire came to be set at the Rhine and Danube Rivers Over time an impressive line of fortifications to guard the Empire against the unsubdued Germanic tribes developed. Today this line cuts through southwestern German and the southern German state of Bavaria.
As the Limes became permanent, they built more permanent facilities. One also learn much about the daily Roman life by seeing their baths, theaters, and other related facilities that they built wherever they went. The equivalent fortifications in Roman Britain were Hadrian's Wall and the Roman forts (like Vindolanda) dotted along it.
What To Know Of The Limes Germanicus
This line of fortifications between Germania Inferior (a Roman Province) and Germania Superior (not part of the Empire) existed from around AD 83 to AD 260.
- Existed: Between AD 83 and AD 260
- Frontier: Marked The Frontier Between Roman Controlled and Not Controlled Germania
- Length: The Limes Stretched For Around 353 miles or 568 kilometers
Where they could the Romans made use of natural boundaries like rivers. Elsewhere, they constructed earthen banks with dishes, a wooden palisade, and watchtowers at intervals. Located strategically behind the limes was a system of linked forts.
- Gap: There Was A Heavily Defended 190 Mile Wide Gap Between The Rhine and Danube Rivers
- Forts: In Total There Were At Least 60 Forts and 900 Watchtowers Along The Line
The total length of the Limes Germanicus was around 353 miles or 568 kilometers and included around 60 forts and 900 watchtowers. The weakest point in the fortifications was the gap between the Westward bend of the Rhine (at modern-day Mainz in Germany) and the main flow of the Danube at Regensburg. This part was the most heavily guarded. The forts and towers there were arranged in depth.
German Limes Road
Today traces of this ancient line of fortifications can still be seen today. Follow the German Limes Road and discover ancient Roman forts, Roman baths, legion camps, watchtowers, and border ramparts. In the region are also many outstanding museums that delve into the rich Roman history of this part of Germany.
- Explore: The German Limes Can Be Explore By Car, Bicycle, and By Foot
There is also the German Limes Cycle Route and the German Limes Hiking Trail.
The German Limes road was established in 1995 to create a touristic route for motorists. It follows the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes which have now been declared a World Heritage Site.
- Length: The Limes Road runs Around 820 km
- World Heritage: The Limes Are World Heritage Listed
There is an interactive map showing the ancient German Limes, the Limes Road, the Limes Cycle Route, and the Limes Hiking Trail on the German Limes Road website. The interactive Google map also displays the many museums, forts, fortlets, watchtowers, and other ancient Roman attractions along the route.
Alternatively, download their PDF brochure detailing the best of the many Roman attractions along the Limes Road.
Saalburg Roman Fort
There are many impressive Roman reconstructions in Germany. One example along the ancient Limes is the reconstructed Roman fort of Saalburg. It is located in the German state of Hesse and was a cohort fort on the Limes.
Today the Saalburg fort is the most completely reconstructed Roman fort in Germany. It is also part of the Limes World Heritage site since 2005. The Roman fort and museum was rebuilt 100 years ago and today is one of the main attractions along the Limes Roman Road.
As one passes into the fort's main gate – the Porta Praetoria – one passes back in time to the world of the Romans.
The history of the fort really started around AD 90 when a simple wood-and-earth fort was built for around 160 men. During Hadrian's reign in around AD 135, the fort was replaced by a much larger fort for around 500 men and was transformed into a wood and stone fort.
- Admission: Adults: €7
- March through October: daily from 9 am to 6 pm
- November through February: daily from 9 am to 4 pm except Mondays
There are hundreds of other attractions along the route and one will be able to learn a lot more about Roman's troublesome frontier and the trade that went across it.